In 1914, the British navy lost its star performer in the super-dreadnought battleship class when the HMS Audacious was wrecked off the northern coast of Donegal, Ireland.
It was, however, when all was said and done, more of a ship-whoopsie than a shipwreck.
The HMS Audacious was setting out for training exercises with her fellow members of the 2nd Battle Squadron when she ran up against a naval mine that had been laid by a German ship.
The engine room on the port side of the Audacious flooded almost instantly, causing the ship to list dangerously and the stern to submerge.
The damage to the ship was initially thought to be from an enemy submarine. The Audacious attempted to make it back to shore while the rest of the super-dreadnoughts cleared out of the area to avoid further attack.
When it became apparent that the Audacious would not be able to make it back to shore, smaller destroyers and tugboats were sent to the rescue. By this time, however, the Audacious was in serious trouble.
As the futile rescue attempt continued, naval officials received messages stating that two other ships had succumbed to mines in that same area during the past 24 hours. Prompt communication between squadrons was apparently not the British navy’s strong suit at this time.
The sinking of the Audacious took nearly 13 hours, with sheepish crew members and personnel being evacuated in waves as more and more of the ship slipped beneath the water’s surface.
It finally sank completely and exploded, resulting in the shipwreck’s lone casualty when a piece of flying armor plate crushed a petty officer on a ship about 800 yards away.